In "Silicon Avatar," after discovering the Crystalline Entity hovering in the planet's orbit, several colonists, Dr. Crusher, Riker, and Data start to run for their lives.

Certain episodes seem to suggest that Data was spared from the Omicron Theta Crystalline Entity destruction because he was shut off, and therefore not "alive" at the time. However, according to memory alpha, the Crystalline Entity converts organic matter into energy. I am not aware of Data having any organic components.

So, which is it? Either Data has some organic parts, and therefore he was truly in danger of being destroyed by the Entity, or he really wasn't saved by "being off" on Omicron Theta. Perhaps Data's running in "Silicon Avatar" was not to protect himself, but merely to guide the colonists to safety, since they obviously were in danger. Or, a third alternative: the Entity is also dangerous to inorganic life, and memory alpha's entry is incomplete.


Per my answer here, it's clear that while Data doesn't have any organic components, he does possess some components that closely replicate human tissue and fluids. It's conceivable but unlikely that these would be damaged by the Crystalline Entity's beam.

The main reason why Data seems to be running for the caves is not to protect his own existence, but to protect the lives of the colonists and because he was directly ordered to do so by Riker. It's worth noting that the order was largely unnecessary since his ethical subroutines would result in him disobeying an order to abandon them.

Riker, Beverly, Data, and Carmen are herding people together.

RIKER : Let's go! (calling) Beverly! This way!

On his arrival at the cave, his presence is once again essential since it's his job (as senior scientific officer on the planet) to scan the caves to see if they're safe to hide in.

  • 1
    Also, note that Data could probably run much faster if he wanted to. – John Sensebe Apr 28 '16 at 14:14

He probably was safe

There are two instances here that I think are of crucial importance, both from TNG 'Datalore'

  1. Lore seemed to be immune

When Lore is speaking with the Crystalline Entity, he says:

LORE: Very good. You've understand [sic] perfectly so far. Next, I'll signal that I'm about to transport something out, at which time the deflector shields will turn off for a moment, and if you move in at that time


Unfortunately, Lore was cut off from finishing his sentence, but it certainly sounds as though he was about to say that "if you move in at that time, you can attack". Assuming this is correct, it seems that Lore was going to make the Enterprise-D vulnerable to attack from the Entity, but he was going to remain active without any apparent protection from the Entity. This suggests to me that Lore knew he would be safe from whatever the Crystalline Entity does to organic beings. Lore is physically identical to Data (as per 'Brothers'), so if the assumptions here are correct, Data would have been safe.

  1. Data was left outside and no harm came to him

Again in 'Datalore':

DATA: I have always felt that it was done hurriedly, but I know little more. Here, sir. This is where the cruiser's landing party found the signal device that had led them here. And they found me lying there, sir.

(He indicates a platform, obviously man-made, on a rock shelf)

TASHA: You were just lying out there in the open? No identity record, no instructions?

DATA: Only a layer of dust.

Data was obviously not harmed by the Entity's deadly methods, despite not having any protection. Later in the episode they claim that Data was safe from the Entity because he wasn't alive at the time, just like Lore, although I don't buy this based on my argument in point 1 above. Also, what difference would it make if Data were 'alive' or not? Data must have energy reserves. As Data wasn't very well understood even after 27 years by the time of 'The Measure of a Man', it's quite unlikely the Starfleet team who discovered him would have known how provide him with the power he needed. I expect that Data still had energy within his reserves and I highly doubt that such energy would have been converted to organic energy if he were active.

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